New pressure on workers to get the COVID-19 vaccines or find a new job is surfacing after a federal court ruling upheld the right of private employers to require all of their employees to get the COVID-19 shots, just as employers have already been permitted to order employees to get flu shots and other vaccines. The exceptions would be employees who have religious or medical exemptions.
The ruling in Texas is setting precedent nationwide, including in Georgia where two-thirds of the people are not fully vaccinated, and may not want the shots, ever.
Currently the ruling gives workers no rights of refusal, at all, other than to prove they have a religious or medical exemption. If there is no proof they can simply quit.
178 employees at Houston Methodist Hospital refused their boss’s order to get the COVID-19 shots, insisting the vaccines are still not proven to be safe. “My job, my health, it’s not worth it,” one of the protesting employees said at a demonstration with colleagues outside the hospital last week.
The hospital suspended them without pay causing them to sue in federal court. On Saturday they lost.
“We all wear proper PPE, anyway,” Jennifer Bridges, the lead plaintiff said. “So, vaccinated or not, we’re not going to spread anything.”
The ruling confirms an earlier EEOC decision that all private employers can legally order their employees to get fully vaccinated against COVID-19, unless the worker has a religious or medical exemption.
“The ruling is going to have a lasting impact on other states. If there are other challenges to this requirement, a lot of other courts and cases are going to point back to this specific case in Houston,” Jared Pope, founder of Work Shield said. “Whether you’re a restaurant, retail, hospitality, professional services, it applies to every, single employer.”
Pope also mentioned that all employers probably will not want to require workers to get the vaccines.